Good lost word, succor. As an infant mouth pulls sweet need from the breast. Sucker: that child, or a loser. Or a gull— someone fooled. Gull’s a sea grace too, a diving shelter wing. Sucker: sweet on a stick. Sticky.
Dive and warm me, sweet Grace. Feed me, help me. Don’t fool me, don’t lose me. Be my succor. Stick to me.
Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10 (KJV)
Don’t be afraid of your hunger. I gave it for your fullness, The cravings, the pinched gullet, the corrosive wants, all have come to serve you. Don’t be afraid of the pablum, the drivel in your diet, or the sharp cactus burrs when you swallow. Don’t be afraid even if you don’t know you are hungry.
I’ve seen the Kathmandu corpses, garlanded with marigolds, burned to a crisp, holy smoke sifting across the river, censing the air for the tourists. In Annapurna’s narrow lap this valley, chock full of bones, is too cramped for burials. Instead, the dead are loaded onto burn piles stacked with logs from the foothills, now naked and eroding, pillaged for ceremony, death gathering to itself more death up the slow gradient of necessity. Mourners chant. Mortality teaches our ears, eyes, noses as the little boats of skeletal ash and charcoal are launched, freed from the funeral ghats, to drift downstream.
Urged now to weigh the manner of my final dispersal, I’m not averse to incineration. But I confess this foolish comfort: to lie beside my husband in our grave—a double bed we chose together— the full, aged remnant of the body he loved, knowing heaven can pull together from earth or urn, from bones or ashes, whatever is needed for what’s next.
The child who labored under the AK-47, who bore its weight like a claw on his naked shoulder
and memorized the equation of trigger + blood = food, cried out to Ludana and escaped to the darkening savannah.
He awoke on a carpet of acacia shadows. Above him, the coral dawn shook out its feathers
and raptors began to ripple through the sky. He spilled his heart out like water to the Lord.
And ants came to him, came by the thousands, encircling his neck like a chain of glittering onyx.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).